2019, the year in retrospective

A reflection on this year from a stoic perspective

The end of the year is soon upon us. I am not a fan of any new year’s resolutions or that sort of stuff, but for the past year and a half I have been dabbling into stoicism and some of its practices.

One of the most common practice is the daily reflection, exercised for example by journaling. This has proven for me to be a very powerful tool in all aspects of life.

Summertime picture taken by myself

Memories of summer. f/2.5 1/500s ISO100 @ 23mm

So, I wanted to mix daily reflections and the concept of zeitgeist, to review some topics I have touched during 2019. Below, a list in no particular order:

Photography 📷 – This has been a busy year for me when it comes to photography. This year has been about testing things and finding my way. I realised that rushing to publish material does not bring me anything, and I don’t need to please anybody but myself. I am comfortable with this line of thought and it will probably lead me to change the way I edit and publish my material, but I have not yet decided how or when.

I did a lot of experiments with my flow: from just processing JPGs, to exporting RAWs to a tablet and processing the files with different software like Darkroom or Ultralight (this last one made in Finland). On the same line, I have researched for what should become my go-to editing tool, having discarded Adobe products for their license and in line with my views, I have opted for RawTherapee. Next year I will continue mastering my tools further (software and hardware), gaining confidence at doing portraits and focus on finding out what I really want to photograph.

I even built my own personal cloud system with NextCloud installed on top of a tiny-but-extremely-powerful Rock64 attached to a 4TB disk; a home-made NAS/cloud, if you will, that end up discarded due to the subpar uplink provided by my ISP.

Code 💻 – This year I have grown quite a bit my knowledge in certain areas. Because of professional reasons, I have worked quite a lot with Ruby and a little bit with Golang. On my part time, I have decided at the beginning of the year to start learning Bash with Exercism. But then it dawn on me: allmost all I play with is object-oriented. Because of this, and my growing love affair with Emacs, I decided to start digging into Elisp, and here I am, half way through An Introduction to Programming in Emacs Lisp, happy and excited with the possibilities. But then, a colleague pitched to me Erlang, and I found it super powerful and, since it shares paradigm with Elisp, I thought why not? so I took over Learn You Some Erlang (thanks Larte!). My aim is to not take anything else, go deeper with what I have already started and see where that leads me.

Books 📚 – I have failed myself here. At the beginning of this year, I proposed myself two goals:

For the former, everything started very well, with Riot Days by Maria Alyokhina as one of my favourite books of the past 5 years (go read it if you have not!). However, towards the middle of the challenge, I started to make exceptions (e.g.: with all technical books mentioned above are written by males) and then I failed at being consistent and started to read other subjects authored by males.

For the later, I decided to reduce the average amount of books I read during a year –around 30– to half of that, plus one, to make room for my pace understanding Finnish. Here I failed again, as I did not manage to settle on which book to read, and so I went ahead and just read English and Spanish literature without stopping to select a good Finnish novel to read other than Tove Jansson’s works which I have already read and don’t count as novel, but more teenage literature. You can find out everything I read from my Goodreads profile.

Leisure 🚴 – Fun was had, indeed. With my new bike I had fun on a solo 400km trip. Hiking the Finnish fjells short after with my dog Aarre was also a bliss. I was rather inconsistent at practicing some sort of physical activity for a sustained period of time (i.e. more than 6 months). I stopped my mysore practice due to fatigue, I stopped swimming out of boredom and I interrupted running because of the weather. Looking forward for getting on my bike in 2020.

Aarre running, picture taken by myself

Aarre running. 1/640s ISO100 shot with Minolta MC Rokkor 1:1.7 55mm

Doggy 🐶 Aarre is the best thing that has happened to me in 2019. Hands down. He makes me so happy!. I am super glad I came across him and I could provide him home, food and entertainment. Remember to adopt, don’t shop.

I have it clear now, I am failing to follow up on things 🙈 Well, at least I know what I need to work on.

I recommend this or any other kind of reflection if you are trying to get deeper into the whys and be systematic when going about things. I could start by updating this site more often…

EDIT Dec 17, 2023: Updated <figure> elements to include alt attribute.

Typed on Dec 12, 2019